CreateSpace, which until last week was CustomFlix Labs, a company founded in 2002 and acquired by Amazon in 2005, today launched a print on demand book publishing service. The newly minted CreateSpace service line-up now includes print on demand books, DVDs, CDs, direct download video, audio books, and HD DVDs (Blu-ray coming soon). This puts Amazon in direct competition with Lulu, and to a lesser extent CafePress.
The implications of this announcement for Lulu could be large. Until now, Lulu has been, to my knowledge, the only print on demand publisher that offered books, CDs, and DVDs with no set up fee and offered syndication to sites like Amazon.
Where it really gets tricky for Lulu, is that Amazon offers a guaranteed way for publishers into Amazon's catalog. Books published via third-party POD publishers were never guaranteed to get a listing on the Amazon site, though most books listed in the Books in Print catalog tend to get picked up by Amazon according to Lulu. CreateSpace also offers customers automatic extras like Amazon's Search Inside! this book feature, and IMDb listing eligibility for DVDs.
CreateSpace beats Lulu on price as well, and doesn't charge for ISBN numbers for books (required for books to be sold on Amazon and listed in the Books in Print catalog) and UPC numbers for CDs and DVDs. Lulu, however, still offers far more printing options (such as hardcover and saddle stitch bindings), and offers the potential of selling products through Amazon competitors like Barnes and Noble -- something that I tend to doubt Amazon will help authors with.
Lulu was one of the companies I had marked in my mind as being ripe for acquisition by either Amazon or eBay. Amazon, it seems, has decided to build instead of buy by relaunching their CustomFlix site as a full-service on demand media publisher.